Video, 8:22 min. Loop, 2017

1.     Upon arriving in Cuba the wind snatched the beige hat off of my head
and gave it to the waves. The words “stoic af are my medium,” were gently embroidered and centered on its front in a gold thread that failed to shimmer farewell in the moonlight.1

2.     For this performance I stood there, conducting baton in hand, beseeching
the waves to crash like they had upon my arrival. To greet me in taking on the
volume of, and collapsing with, the gravity of all the black bodies lost to it. Water to make a convert. Currents to make a recruit. Ocean for a baptism.

3.     I move the whole of my arms.2 Sometimes the arm from above the elbow.
Other times only my wrists. Many times, I move just my thumb and forefinger.
All of these parts make up the hole. I float the baton within my hand as if
conducting a compass. One. Two. Three. Four. One. Two. Three. Four. And again.
4.     I am recalling all of the sounds I have heard in Cuba.3 I am.
5.     When the waves/Danzón/sounds are all encompassing they swell my eyelids closed. They push my head back and lengthen my neck. They envelop me and I have only my black body to respond with. I have my entire limitless vessel to respond with. On the last beat of a whole note I am an extended slinky drawn backwards like the tail of a shooting star. All of the color fading into color— a current stilled.

6.     I walk too far into the rising ocean to meet the desire of being dragged to sea. It is dangerous. But I am an entranced wave not yet broken. Not yet mist displaced by the wind. A fellow traveller’s voice calls to me from behind. “You are outside of the frame.” He is referencing the camera capturing the encounter. I return.

  1 This led to two performances on the northern side of Cuba in which I “conducted” a non-       existent orchestra. I conducted with, and moved further and further away from, the Danzón      being  played in my head, via an in-ear monitor— reacting to, and then, eventually,        
  responding exclusively to  the waves crashing towards and on top of me.

  2 There is something about the impossibility of embodying a conductor that I am drawn to—
  both in its physicality and unveiling of futility.

  3 After performing this piece on the Malecón, I located a drumming group in Calejón de Jamel named Rumba Morena. It’s members: Maldeyris, Gladis, Yordanca, and Tailyn graciously created a percussive scoring for the video documentation of the performance. The  score has been mixe with field recordings created in Cuba and recordings of drummers local to Philadelphia.